For Here Or To Go? takes jury prize

SSAFF 2015 Jury Award Winner For Here Or To Go? Director Rucha Humnabadkar, Producer Rishi Bhilawadikar, Producer CC Chainey
SSAFF 2015 Jury Award Winner For Here Or To Go? Director Rucha Humnabadkar, Producer Rishi Bhilawadikar, Producer CC Chainey

SSAFF 2015 Awards

SEATTLE, WA: The 10th Seattle South Asian Film Festival closed Sunday with a screening of The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim (2015) from first-time director Raghav Murali and starring Bangladeshi-American actor Rashaan Islam, both of whom were in attendance.

After a filmmaker Q&A and before the festive Closing Night Gala that followed, the SSAFF 2015 Jury Award and SSAFF 2015 Audience Awards in three categories were announced:

Raves and accolades for Rucha Humnabadkar’s For Here Or To Go? (2015) bracketed the Festival – it played to a sold-out crowd on Opening Night and was awarded the SSAFF Jury Award at Closing Night ceremonies. The SSAFF 2015 Jury, comprising local and international filmmakers, writers, and academics said, “For Here Or To Go? explores the immigrant experience from a unique perspective.

We get to be inside the protagonist’s head as he tries to build a life for himself. He is at the same time a vital part of the American experience while also an outsider trying to get in.”

For Here Or To Go? takes on the many personal challenges faced by immigrants in America with a lighthearted and thoughtful story of one young Indian set against the 2008 economic recession.

“This recognition is truly humbling,” says Humnabadkar. “I was overwhelmed with the enthusiastic audience response. Thank you for recognizing the value of strong, original ideas that carry an important message. The SSAFF team welcomed us with open arms and the festival was an inspiring and heartwarming experience.”

Adds Producer Rishi Bhilawadikar, “We are honored to be recognized at such a diverse festival as SSAFF. Your hospitality and encouragement are crucial to independent filmmakers like us trying to bring our stories to the world.”

For Best Documentary, SSAFF audiences chose Among The Believers (2015) by co-directors Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Naqvi, who worked for three years to cultivate access to Pakistani cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi and the uppermost levels of the famed and dogmatic Red Mosque in Islamabad. Their documentary explores the intersections of education, poverty, and radicalization in Pakistan.

Trivedi comments, “Ultimately, the fight against militant Islamists has to be led by Muslims themselves. Terrorism must be diffused by helping children gain skills that will make them employable in the future. It is through books and not bombs that Pakistan can emerge out of its current precipice.”

The trophy for Best Narrative went home with Marathi-language family film Killa (2014) from Indian director Avinash Arun. Killa takes on the universal topic of change through a child’s eyes and with great compassion, and won audience hearts at SSAFF 2015 with its combination of earnestness and charm.

The sobering Mister Come Tomorrow (2015) from director Shamas Nawab Siddiqui is the SSAFF audience’s choice for Best Short Film. Director Siddiqui was in attendance at his screening on Closing Night and stayed for a heartfelt Q&A on the Muslim practice of Halala, the requirement that a divorced woman consummate marriage with another man before she can be rejoined to her ex-husband.

Audiences turned out in force to celebrate the 10th iteration of the largest South Asian film festival in the United States, with ticket sales more than doubling over 2014.

A symposium on the politics of filmmaking in South Asia played short and feature-length films and presented panels of international filmmakers and activists to a packed room over two days at the University of Washington.

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